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Operations

Operations Team Leaders

 

Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman, RJE

Team Leader, Advocacy

Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman, RJE, is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Israel of the City of New York. She received her BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her MA in Hebrew Letters, MA in Jewish Education and Rabbinic Ordination from HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Buyer-Witman began her journey in Jewish education as a Dean of Students at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, California. From 2006-2011 Rabbi Buyer-Witman served as the Director of Religious School, Youth and Camp Programs for Stephen S. Wise Temple where she was responsible for a number of innovations including a revolutionary new post b’nai mitzvah program entitled, The Academy and her nationally recognized program, “TiLearn,” that blends on-site learning with distance learning . Since 2011 she has continued to innovate and reinvigorate learning for students of all ages at Temple Israel of the City of New York.

Rabbi Buyer-Witman has served in various leadership positions in the field of Jewish Education. She is the Editor for the CCAR’s Mishkan HaNefesh for Youth: A Machzor for Youth and Families.  She is a faculty member for the URJ’s Crane Lake and Eisner Camps. She has served as the Chair of the Limud Taskforce to reimagine Jewish Education for URJ’s Camps Eisner and Crane Lake. She also served on the Central Conference of American Rabbi’s Children and Youth Siddur Committee on the Board of Overseers for Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, the Board of the ARJE, and Hebrew Union College’s National Advisory Committee for the Certificate Program in Jewish Education, specializing in adolescents and emerging adults. In January of 2011 she co-chaired NATE’s North American conference in Seattle Washington, the topic of which was her true passion––Jewish Education and Technology.

Rabbi Buyer-Witman and her husband Michael Witman are the proud and boastful parents of three girls Lily, Josie and Nessa.

Rabbi Rena Rifkin, RJE

Team Leader, Advocacy

Rabbi Rena Rifkin currently serves Stephen Wise Free Synagogue as the Religious School Director. She received her MAJE from the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education in 2008 and was ordained by HUC-JIR in 2010. She has worked in various synagogues throughout the New York area, including Congregation Emanu-El of the City of NY, Temple Shaaray Tefilah and North Shore Synagogue. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Scott, and their two children, Eden and Simon.

Jay Rapoport

Team Leader, Communications

Jay Rapoport, MARE, is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Sholom of Chicago, including Gan Shalom Early Childhood Education, Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School, Crown Family High School and Adult and Family Education. Prior to moving to Chicago he served for many years as Youth Educator at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City and Camp Director at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. Jay earned his Master’s Degree in Religious Education from HUC-JIR and a B.A. in Elementary Education and Music from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He is a pianist, vocalist and composer of original Jewish music, and his latest album, “They Tried To Get Us, We Won, Let’s Rock!” was released in December 2014. Jay and his wife Rachel live in Lakeview with their two children, Ruthie and Emet.

Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE

Team Leader, Communications

Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE, brings decades of experience and an extraordinary passion for Jewish education to Lakeside Congregation and our ARJE board. Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Jewish Education from Spertus College, and continues her own educational quest by attending and planning ongoing professional growth courses for Chicago-area teachers and principals. Every summer since 1989 Vanessa has proudly served as faculty member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, and (of course) is an active board member of ARJE.

Vanessa has served on the ARJE Board, and has been the co-chair of the Operations Committee. She is also the director and star of the youtube sensation, “Between 2 Doors“, so answer her call when you hear from her — she might want you to be the next star of her viral video sensation!

Missy Bell, RJE

Team Leader, Finance

Missy Bell, RJE, is the Program Director of Youth Learning and Engagement at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. She has a Master of the Arts in Jewish Education and a Master of the Arts in Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She did her undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies. Missy grew up in Carmel, Indiana spending summers at Goldman Union Camp Institute. Missy is the Communications Chair of the Alumni Council of HUC’s School of Jewish Non-Profit Management and a clinical faculty member for HUC’s New York School of Education. Outside of her professional responsibilities, Missy loves football, traveling, cupcakes, and spending time with her really cute nephew, Joey.

Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE

Team Leader, Finance

Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE, has served as the Rabbi-Educator at Congregation B’nai Shalom since 2007. Rabbi Joe grew up in Buffalo and is a graduate of The University of Michigan (Residential College), holds a Master of Hebrew Letters and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College and a Masters in Educational Administration from Xavier University. An alumnus of the URJ Joseph Eisner and Goldman Union Camps, Rabbi Joe attributes much of his Jewish identity and rabbinic calling to his summers spent at Reform Jewish summer camps. Rabbi Joe has worked in the field of Jewish education for over twenty-five years. Joe has served on the boards of PARDES, RAVSAK, Planned Parenthood, Big Brothers and has taught numerous workshops in the field of Jewish education. He and his wife, Rabbi Lisa Eiduson, have found their greatest joy and fulfillment in raising their two children, Rosie and Carly, and their two Labrador retrievers, Maggie and Mason.

Rabbi Stacy Eskovitz Rigler, RJE

Team Leader, Member Relations

Rabbi Stacy Eskovitz Rigler, RJE, is the Director of Religious Educaiton at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. At KI she has created a new approach to Jewish education, JQuest, focusing on engaging kids through project-based learning, Hebrew through movement, and arts integration. She is an alumna of URJ Camp Harlam where she serves on faculty, a graduate of HUC-JIR rabbinic and education programs, and a participant in the HUC-JTS Leadership Institute. She is married to Rabbi Peter Rigler and has three children.

Barb Shimansky, RJE

Team Leader, Member Relations

Barb Shimansky, RJE, currently serves as the Director of the School for Living Judaism at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach. A native of suburban Detroit, she is a graduate of Michigan State University and earned her MSW from Wayne State University and her MARE from HUC-JIR. Formerly, Barb was a social worker with a focus on children in school, foster care, and juvenile justice settings. She also has extensive experience in Jewish youth education at both the elementary and secondary levels, previously teaching and directing youth programs at congregations in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Barb worked in the area of congregational support for the Union for Reform Judaism, and for five years served as the Director of Education at Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee. Raised in the Reform Movement, Barb is an alumna of NFTY and the URJ Kutz Camp and has served as a faculty member of the URJ Kutz Camp and Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI). She has facilitated workshops on topics such as informal education and junior youth programming at both regional and North American URJ gatherings, and has published several articles regarding the engagement of youth and families in Jewish learning experiences. Barb happily resides with her husband, Jake, and their three sons.

Rabbi Nicki M. Greninger

Team Leader, Professional Learning

Rabbi Nicki Greninger is the Director of Education at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA.  She grew up in Denver, Colorado and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College.  She was ordained as a Rabbi and earned her MARE in 2008 from the New York campus of HUC-JIR, and her article “Believing, Behaving, Belonging: Tefillah Education in the 21st Century” in the Journal of Jewish Education is currently used in Jewish education classes throughout the country.  Rabbi Greninger is a recipient of the Pomegranate Prize by the Covenant Foundation, serves on the Leadership Team of the Presidents Rabbinic Council of HUC-JIR, and is a member of the Committee on Worship and Practice for the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).  Rabbi Greninger is married to Dr. Daniel Greninger, and they have three children.

Marisa Kaiser, RJE

Team Leader, Professional Learning

Marisa Kaiser, RJE, is Director of Education at Temple Sinai in Atlanta, Georgia. Previously, she was the Alpert-Waldman Family Director of Education Chair at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, California. She has served ARJE in a variety of capacities, including co-chair of the 2012 annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s married to Mike, and they have children who are both numerous and adorable.

Debra J. Siroka, RJE

Team Leader, Professional Learning

Debra J. Siroka, RJE, is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, WA, and sits on the Faculty Commission for URJ Camp Kalsman. In her over 18 years as a Jewish Educator, she has served in many different roles—as a congregational educator, as an educational consultant, and as a curriculum writer for the American Jewish Archives and the Union for Reform Judaism. For ARJE, Debra has functioned in a variety of roles—as board member, as co-team leader for Communications, and as co-team leader for Professional Learning. She also co-chaired the Symposium on Jewish Identity in 2009.